Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers, February 18, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, February 18, 2015

Pray for Las Pavas community in Colombia. Pray for the land and crops of these campesinos (farmers) that are under the threat of Aportes San Isidro palm oil company. The company has installed fences within the campesinos land, creating physical obstacles that impede their access their own lands. Pray that the Collective Reparation Process that the Colombian government has offered this community as a way to compensate victims of the armed conflict becomes an immediate reality. Pray for the campesinos that work the land and allow us to have food on our tables.  

C:\Users\Josea\Descargas\10947287_794958550557280_254505241177004365_o.jpg

Photo: Aportes San Isidro palm oil company has installed this gate five times, even after municipal authorities have declared illegal and removed it. Somehow, the gate has been put back time after time. Follow this link to learn more about this situation

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” (Luke 8:15)


COLOMBIA: El Guayabo demands that armed men leave their community

 10690127_765800480139754_2400998205736425527_n
 

Community members retake possession of
Rincón's property

After a week of confrontations between the El Guayabo community members and armed men installed by Rodrigo Lopez Henao on Henry Rincón’s property, Lopez’s men have left the land.  Riot police illegally evicted Rincón from the property in October at the bidding of Lopez.

When CPT arrived at El Guayabo on 31 November, the military was camped at the town’s port.  On 1 December, the military came to investigate the situation on the farm, having heard reports that there were firearms in the vicinity, but they did not act.  Their visit left the community disappointed and wary of the military’s position.  In the evening, Lopez sent in extra men to guard the house, leaving a total of ten guards on the property.

Prayers for Peacemakers December 3, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers December 3, 2014

Pray for the community of El Guayabo, who are feeling discouraged that the Colombian authorities appear to be taking no action to address the illegal eviction of October 29, 2014 when riot police removed the community's school teacher from his home. The powerful landowner Rodrigo Lopez Henao who took control of the house added additional armed men to guard it on Tuesday evening.

 Epixel for Sunday, December 7, 2014
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his
 people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may
 dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss
 each other.
Psalm 85:8-10
 
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  
Revised Common Lectionary  readings.

CPT INTERNATIONAL REFLECTION: Treasure in Ferguson, Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Turtle Island

Since a St. Louis, Missouri prosecutor and Grand Jury have determined that Police Officer Darren Wilson killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown did not merit a trial, I have been busy tweeting #Ferguson on the Christian Peacemaker Team Twitter account.  Those tweets have been getting a lot of retweets.  We have no people working in Ferguson and I have asked myself why I am inundating the account. 

I think it has to do with the disposability of human life, with the contempt shown to Michael Brown when the authorities left his body in the street for four and a half hours and did not bother interviewing key witnesses to the shooting for weeks (until there was a public outcry.)  That contempt connected directly with our work in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine, with indigenous communities in North America, and with migrants in Europe.  In all these cases, people in power have deemed the people we work with disposable. 

COLOMBIA: Communities around El Guayabo establish a “Space for Peace and Non-Violent Resistance against Dispossession.”

On 14 November, seventy community members of Guayabo established a space for peace.  The women led the march, flying banners and singing, setting up camp around the house currently occupied by Rodrigo López Henao’s men since the eviction of 29 October 2014.

Since the occupation of the property, López Henao’s  men have destroyed about 100 plantain trees.  The community began replanting the trees with recovered sees on 14 November.

The community intends to remain on the land surrounding the house until their situation is legally resolved and the authorities return their land to them.  Through the below declaration of a space for peace and their commitment to nonviolent acts of resistance they hope to make their situation more visible.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: The Magdalena

 

 

 

Mary Magdalene is one of the most controversial and mysterious Biblical characters.  Unjustly pegged as a prostitute and temptress by Pope Gregory I, her reputation remained tarnished for around seven centuries before Biblical scholars redeemed her by untangling the three women whose stories Gregory had merged.  Though we know very little about her life, we do know that she was a person of importance to Jesus.  He used his gifts to cast seven demons out of her, and chose her to be one of the first people to see him after the resurrection.  Her story is an interesting one to contemplate as I travel along ‘El Rio Magdalena,’ a beautiful river named after her, that has a similarly tainted reputation.

 

The Magdalena is Colombia’s longest river, and stretches from the most southern tip of the Huila Department* in southern Colombia to the Caribbean Sea.  The river is CPT’s main mode of transportation between Barrancabermeja, the city where we live, and the communities that we accompany.  Its banks are peppered with trees, fishing canoes and water taxis traveling past each other lazily, and children swim in its murky water.  Outsiders may view the present tranquil atmosphere and have difficulty imagining anything else.  Those who have lived along the river’s banks for more than ten years, however, see it differently.

COLOMBIA: Municipal authorities continue to abet seizure of El Guayabo community land

CPTnet
13 November 2014
COLOMBIA: Municipal authorities continue to abet seizure of El Guayabo community land


Puerto Wilches municipal authorities carried out an illegal eviction on 29 October 2014 in El Guayabo, during which riot police accompanied Rodrigo Lopez Henao in seizing Henry Rincon’s house and property.

Within an hour of arriving, 164 riot police had taken control of the house and removed all community members from the property.  Shortly after, unidentified men began to move into the house with suitcases.

They have remained in the house since, accompanied by the police for three days.  On Thursday, 30 October, the men removed a fence and began to chop down trees on the neighbouring farm with police accompaniment.  The community confronted the police about their partiality to Lopez Henao’s men and their illegal actions, and upon orders from their colonel in Barrancabermeja, the police asked the men to rebuild the fence along the original borders.

On 4 November, the attorney general’s office summoned two community members to make a statement against claims from Lopez Henao that they had threatened him and invaded his land.

The community has now built three houses around the property limits of Rincon’s house as part of a self-protection plan in light of the unknown men living in the house.

COLOMBIA: Las Pavas questions collective reparation program. Will Santos government stand up for Las Pavas?

On Wednesday, 17 September the Victims Unit (Unidad de Victimas) and the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) visited the Las Pavas community to move the Collective Reparation process forward.  They also investigated violations that the Aportes San Isidro (ASI) palm oil company has committed against the community.  The first was the reinstallation of a gate that prevents Las Pavas community members from traveling on the main road to their farms, forcing them to take a difficult detour through the jungle.  The second was the construction of a house and resettlement of a family on Las Pavas’ land.  The latter is an illegal invasion of state land.

 The Collective Reparation process is a government program offered to communities or organizations as part of its efforts to compensate victims of the civil war.  The Las Pavas case is high profile because they one the 2013 National Peace Prize, so the government chose the community to be one of the first for collective reparation.  In theory, the process is a good one where reparation involves making services available to the community such as psychosocial care, housing, and development projects.  In October 2010, Presidente Santos announced his Shock Plan for land restitution.  He said that for peace to be achieved there needed to be serious measures taken about land redistribution and restitution.  The Las Pavas community was named as a priority case.  

In November of 2012, INCODER declared ‘eminent domain’ on the land of Las Pavas declaring it state land.  If Aportes San Isidro had respected this order, INCODER would then have divided the land and titled it to the families of Las Pavas.  However, powerful economic and political allies of ASI prevented the enforcement of this declaration.  Las Pavas community members have witnessed and documented ASI employees burning down families’ homes, destroying crops, severely beating and firing shots at people, stealing tools and killing livestock.  They have done all of this with full impunity.  The local authorities have arrested no one from the company even though they have received reports of these crimes.

 Two community members putting up a new fence to keep cattle from the new Aportes San Isidro
house from destroying their crops.

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 29, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 29, 2014

Pray for the families in Umm Al Kheir, Palestine and El Guayabo, Colombia who were made homeless this week.  The Israeli military demolished six homes in the village of Umm al-Kheir, leaving thirty-one people, including twelve children, homeless on 27 October.  On 29 October, riot police illegally evicted community members of El Guayabo, despite the fact that representatives of the Colombian government have said they have the right to remain on their land.

                                                                              Epixel* for Sunday November 2, 2014

Um Al Kheyr demolitions (1)10698481_748008208585648_3198763651215104780_n (1)
Umm al-KheirRiot police land in El Guayabo
 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." 
                                                                           Matt. 5:4-5
  
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing
with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  
Revised  Common Lectionary
 readings.
 

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: El Guayabo facing eviction tomorrow. Ask Mayor of Puerto Wilches to revoke illegal eviction order.

 

 
 Rodrigo López is escorted by ESMAD during the last eviction.

The community of El Guayabo in the municipality of Puerto Wilches has received information from a reliable source that the police colonel signed an illegal eviction order to be executed tomorrow, Wednesday 29 October 2014.  The proper authorities have not notified or made the community aware of the details of the eviction order and have not guaranteed the community the presence of the public defender as is mandated in cases such as these.  On Sunday 26 October, Mr. Rodrigo López and Mr. Jose Adelmo Caldas (identified by community members as an a ex-paramilitary) arrived with sixteen police officers in the community of El Guayabo, threatening eviction, although they brought with them no court order.

On 15 August, lawyers for the Colombian National Institution for Rural Development (INCODER) made it clear to the Mayor of Puerto Wilches that any eviction against the community is completely illegal as the land is currently under dispute in the federal court system.

Community members are understandably scared and angry.  Tomorrow will be the fifth eviction attempt in a series of irregular, illegal, and sometimes violent efforts to displace Guayabo farmers on claims of ownership by Rodrigo Lopez Henao.  The last eviction occurred on 26 June 2014, and involved Colombian riot police using tear gas and pepper spray and causing multiple injuries to community members.  In addition to eviction attempts, intimidation tactics have included unofficial visits by armed off-duty police and threats to community leaders.

Mayor German Duran is the highest local authority and has the power to intervene in this case.

Sign the Petition